Are you an aspiring entrepreneur looking for the resources, guidance, and connections to get your venture off the ground? Lightspeed Venture Partners is offering summer fellowships to support entrepreneurship and innovation among highly motivated engineering and CS students.
Each selected team will receive $5,000 per team and $10,000 per team member, mentoring by one of Lightspeed’s investment professionals, as well as office space in Menlo Park, CA throughout the summer.
Think of it like a scholarship. We provide resources, mentors, and guidance; you pursue your venture free and unfettered. Fellows are under no obligation to Lightspeed, and Lightspeed receives no equity as part of the program.
Applications are due March 22, 2013. We can accommodate teams who need a decision from us sooner than April – please send us an email with the request. Check out our blog for more information and updates on the program: The Lightspeed Summer Fellowship Program Explained
2013 will be our 7th year running the program, with an alumni class of over 150 fellows. We bring back previous year’s participants throughout the summer to provide mentorship — check out some of the companies our alumni have gone on to start:
The Post-doc of Summer Startup Grants
As current venture capitalists, we enjoy collaborating with young entrepreneurs and guiding them to success. That’s why we created the Summer Fellowship Program, now in its sixth year: to mentor talented students like yourself and give you an opportunity to pursue your venture full-time.
Our goal is to give you the best possible chance for success: that includes office space, financial resources, connections, and guidance from experienced professionals. What you do with the opportunity is up to you. Our only requirement is that you dedicate 10 weeks of your summer to working at our office full-time.
So you don’t have to worry about making ends meet or finding a place to work, each team receives $5,000, and each individual fellow receives $10,000 to cover living and business expenses, and all teams are given space in our Lightspeed office complex in Menlo Park, CA.
The Lightspeed family is here to help you succeed. Each team of 1 to 4 fellows is matched with 1 or 2 Lightspeed partners according to their interests. Of course, you should feel free to ask our other investment professionals for advice and guidance on whatever you may need.
Weekly speakers and angel investors are brought in to share their insights and offer further advice about the start-up experience. Many of these speakers have become advisors to teams. In addition, we’re always happy to put you in touch with anyone else who can help.
Networking at Lightspeed
Innovation is all about networking and collaboration, and at its core the Lightspeed Summer Fellowship fosters collaboration. We strive to create an environment in which you can network with the right people to collaborate as effectively as possible. The idea is to provide the connections, guidance and support you need so that you can transition into a professional entrepreneur.
Your team will be paired with 1 or 2 Lightspeed partners who work in your field. Your mentor will meet regularly with you and work as closely with you as the team and project require. The other partners at Lightspeed are also available for additional advice and guidance. Lightspeed professionals are happy to put you in touch with the lawyers, entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and investors they know can help your business grow.
We have ensured that the office space fosters collaboration among the fellows, too. Set up with office equipment, scenic views, common areas, a fully-stocked kitchen, and even a shower, the space receives lavish praise from fellows. We regularly schedule events so that fellows and Lightspeed partners can spend time together outside the office, as well.
We think that the Summer Fellowship Program is pretty cool, but don’t take our word for it. Here’s what previous fellows had to say about their experience:
Having a Lightspeed mentor was high on the list of things teams enjoyed most:
“Our mentor provided us with lots of good feedback that helped us develop our company. We also got some great advice not only on how to attract a future investor, but also how best to work with them.”
Fellows loved getting to know each other, too:
“It was extremely stimulating and fun to be working alongside young entrepreneurs in different fields but with similar ambitions and problems. Getting feedback on some of our ideas quickly from our peers really helped us accelerate our progress.”
And the teams raved about the office space:
“It sounds silly, but the quality of the office space and the food and drinks are important when you’re in the office from 10am to 2am every day. Everything was set-up and ready to go for us so we didn’t have to take time out to get snacks, or call IT when the phone or internet went down.”
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does Lightspeed get out of this?
Lightspeed gets the opportunity to work closely with outstanding young entrepreneurs. Just as universities and government agencies fund top-notch research, we have the facilities and especially the desire to support entrepreneurship and innovation. The opportunity to mentor and collaborate with students is all the incentive we need. We receive no equity, and teams are under no obligation to Lightspeed.
2. Must an engineer (CS or EE) be on the team? Does the engineer have to be a student?
Yes and Yes. Eligible teams must have at least one engineer who was a full-time student in the 2012-2013 academic year. Teams submitting energy-related business ideas may substitute with someone who has the relevant science background.
3. Define ‘student’.
The student team member must have been a full-time student at some point in the 2012-2013 academic year. People who graduated at any time in the 2012-2013 academic year ARE eligible.
4. Are non-students eligible to receive a fellowship?
Yes. Team members who do NOT have other full-time jobs/commitments are eligible to receive a fellowship, provided they work full-time out of the office space provided.
5. What about international businesses?
Yes. Lightspeed has offices in China, India and Israel. We are interested in businesses focusing on international markets. But just to be clear, those team members who win a fellowship must spend 10 weeks working out of the Menlo Park office between June 1 and September 30.
6. What about non-technical businesses?
Yes. We are open to all business ideas. That said, because we want to be able to add value to fellows, we prefer businesses in the areas where we have experience: primarily IT and energy-related fields. We do not invest in healthcare or medical technology.
7. Are there any particular areas of interest that you are looking for?
We’re always interested in great tech- and energy-related business ideas, but there are always special areas that partners are hoping to work on. This year, partners are particularly interested in ideas involving cloud computing services or technologies, Hadoop, iPhone apps, social games, Cleantech (batteries, grid, biofuels, solar), and online education.
8. Do all team members have to work full-time? Can we start earlier than June 1st? Can we finish later than Sept 30th?
All fellows must work 10 weeks full-time between June 1st and September 30; additional team members not receiving fellowships have no such requirement. We are looking for dedicated entrepreneurs who want to devote the summer to working on their idea; we do not want fellows who want to participate in the program AND another internship. As long as fellows work 10 weeks full-time during the summer timeline, they are welcome to start a few weeks early or stay into October.
9. Can I submit more than one (1) application?
10. Is a team penalized in any way if it has multiple members?
No. We are looking to work with the highest quality individuals. Teams with multiple members eligible for fellowships are just as interesting (and can actually be more so) as teams with one member.
11. Do I have to fill out the Lightspeed application or can I submit alternative materials?
To be eligible to receive the fellowship, the Lightspeed application must be completed.
12. If my team goes on to raise a round of funding, will Lightspeed participate?
The LAST thing Lightspeed wants to do is create friction for any entrepreneurs who want to continue to pursue their company after the program. Lightspeed will invest a minimum of $50k in any Summer Fellowship team that continues on with a company and is able to pull together a round of at least $500k from other investors. It’s very important to understand that the Lightspeed investment is completely at the entrepreneur’s option. If you don’t want it, don’t take it. But this way, if any investor ever asks, “Is Lightspeed investing?” the answer is “Yes, if we want them to.”
Any further questions? Ask John Vrionis or Krish Parikh.
Also check out our blogpost: The Lightspeed Summer Fellowship Program Explained
Eligibility: Teams of 1 to 4 people may submit proposals as a team. Each team must include at least one student (graduate or undergraduate in Engineering or Computer Science) who was a full-time student in the 2012-2013 academic year. Not all team members must work in the Menlo Park Office full-time for 10-12 weeks during the summer; however, only those members working full-time will be eligible for the fellowship.
In 2012 we received over 300 applications from teams comprised of students representing almost 100 universities. We accepted 7 teams and hope to increase the number of accepted teams this year.
Current Areas of Interest: We’re interested in any tech- or energy-related start-up, but this year Lightspeed’s partners are particularly interested in the following areas:
- Cloud computing services or technologies
- “Big data” related projects and ideas
- Mobile applications, services, or infrastructure technology
- Social games
- E-commerce businesses
- Online education
- A preview of the application is available
Applications are due March 22, 2013 and the selected teams will be selected in April. Up to 20 individual fellowships will be awarded. Fellows are under no obligation to Lightspeed, and Lightspeed receives no equity as part of the program.